‘Low-income parents significantly more likely to face job loss due to school closures’

Parents on lower incomes face the biggest impact from school closures, according to a new survey.

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Parents on lower incomes are more likely to lose their jobs as a result of school closures and to have to take unpaid parental leave, according to a new survey.

An analysis by Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Women’s Budget Group Northern Ireland, Women’s Equality Network Wales, Close the Gap and Engender shows that nine times more parents on the lowest incomes (annual household income of £20,000 or below) report that they are at risk of losing their job due to school closures compared to those on £40,000 and above.

Twelve per cent of parents earning below £20,000 a year and 13% of parents earning between £20,000 and £40,000 said they would have to take time off on no pay if schools closed or their children had to self-isolate compared to 7% of parents earning more than £40,000 annually.

The Survation poll, conducted in November/December, also showed that mothers who work part-time are more likely to report they would have to take time off on no pay due to school closures (20% compared to 12% of mothers who work full-time).

Dr Mary Ann Stephenson, Director of Women’s Budget Group, said: “With England now in lockdown and strong restrictions in the devolved nations, parents of school-age children working from home will be struggling once more to combine lesson supervision with paid work. During the Spring lockdown, mothers were disproportionately responsible for the extra care responsibilities, including home-schooling and more likely to be interrupted in their paid work.

As this data shows, mothers are more at risk of having to take time off on no pay when schools close. Workers can be furloughed due to caring responsibilities and this has helped many parents to keep their jobs during the pandemic. Now that part-time furlough is possible, parents should be able to request to be furloughed and potentially share care responsibilities between themselves.”

The Fawcett Society called for a rescue package for the childcare sector, clear guidance on how parents can manage furlough effectively and an equality impact assessment on how decisions such as school closures continue to have a more negative impact on mothers than fathers.

The polling is broken down into regions, with analysis showing, for instance, that in Wales mothers are almost four times more likely than fathers to be the main caregiver for their children (63% v 17%) and similar figures for Scotland and for Northern Ireland where the numbers are 56% vs 13%.

 



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